Friday Night Lights Shine On Juniors

TUSCALOOSA – Friday Night Lights does not spend every week/game on current senior prospects, so when the opportunity presented itself to take in a game featuring two of the top juniors in Alabama, it was time to jump on it And we did. In a key Class 6A, region 4 matchup in Taylorville, visiting McAdory won 35-14 over Hillcrest. To the categories:

TOP PROSPECTS: Yes, that’s plural, as there are two for this report. Both are 2017 kids and both have the attention of Alabama.

Hillcrest running back Brian Robinson (6-1, 205) caught the state’s eye when he set a single-game rushing record against Clay-Chalkville earlier this year by running for 447 yards on 29 carries. That’s no small feat against the defending state champs, who most likely will repeat.

Said Hillcrest Coach Sam Adams of his star junior: “He’s got a lot of physical tools. He’s got anything you’re looking for size or speed wise. He’s an extremely reliable person. That’s one of the best things I always tell everybody about him. He’s a guy that’s always ‘Yes Sir, No sir.’ He’s always here on time, and you never have to worry about him. That’s probably the biggest compliment I could give any of our kids at this point.

“He can catch the ball out of the backfield, he breaks a lot of tackles, and he’s good in pass protection. We really like his progress, so far.”

No argument from McAdory Coach David Powell. He’s not quick with compliments, but held nothing back when asked about Robinson. “He’s a nice player,” Powell said. “He’s a specimen. He’s big. He runs hard, and he’s hard to tackle. He’s maybe the best back in Alabama. He looks really quality on film.”

For the night, Robinson had 63 yards on 15 carries (unofficially), with 4 catches for 9 yards. He can use improvement in the area of cutting, but most of his game is SEC-ready. Alabama and Auburn, among others are battling, but he grew up a Tide fan.

Then you have McAdory athlete Malcolm Askew (5-11, 175). Powell said, “He plays in the secondary for us, and at receiver. He started last year as a sophomore on both sides of the ball. On offense, he’s a play-maker, and we try to get him the ball as much as we can. On defense, he does a solid job, doing his job.”

Adams is also impressed. He added of Askew, “He’s got a whole lot of speed, and it seems like he’s got a lot of enthusiasm for the game. He plays with a good deal of emotion, which is good. I like that. He’s a really solid player, and tends to make plays when he’s given the opportunity to.”

Askew shined on both sides of the ball in his teams’ win. He caught seven passes for 134 yards, including touchdowns of 59 and 29 yards. He rushed twice for 13 yards, once on a reverse and once from the Wildcat. He broke a pass up. He showed good open-field tackling skills. He can also return kicks, though Hillcrest wisely kicked away from him. Many feel he will play defense in the SEC. Alabama, Georgia and others want him. He has options. Of the two, Robinson is more likely to end up at Alabama, but the Tide has given Askew a committable offer. Much can happen before February of ’17.

SENIORS WHO SHINED: McAdory athlete Jordan “Jay” Johnson can play a number of positions at the next level, and that’s why Auburn, Georgia and Georgia Tech, among others, like the 6-0,180-pounder who plays quarterback for the Yellow Jackets. His dad played at Miami, and would love to see his son do the same, but thus far the Canes have not offered. He is quick and fast, and his arm is not bad at all.

Hillcrest linebacker Kobe Redmon is 6-2, 205 and hoping for some offers soon.

JUNIORS TO WATCH: Besides the two featured, the game featured several other intriguing class of 2017 players. The most impressive in this second group was Willie Langham of McAdory, a very fast and sure-handed wide receiver listed at 6-1, 165. He had a touchdown catch of 19 yards to ice the game, and earlier showed good concentration while hauling in a 43-yard over-the-shoulder catch that flipped the field.

His teammate, Dakota Chapman, can play H-back or defensive end, but the former makes more sense at 6-0, 235.

For the Pats, quarterback Cole Frederick (6-0, 188) is dangerous on runs and passes. He bears watching.

SUPER SOPHS: Hillcrest defensive back and kick returner Cagan Campbell (5-10, 150) started for the varsity in both roles as a freshman and has only gotten better.

McAdory defensive lineman Tahj Lee (5-10, 205) is a growth spurt away from getting noticed.

HOW ‘BOUT THAT BBQ: I’d tried Dickey’s BBQ when they catered the basketball media room at Coleman Coliseum a couple of times, but had not journeyed to the actual restaurant on Highway 69 South, not far from Hillcrest in a strip mall. The pulled pork was quite tender, and choosing the sweet sauce over the spicy paid off. I’d like for the potato salad and baked beans to have both been a tad sweeter, but they were okay. The sweet tea must have been sitting there a while. It needed some work. Friendly service, tender pork and good sauce are what I’ll remember most.

MR. SECRETARY: I had thought my long-time pal John Merrill might hang up the mic when he was elected Secretary of State, but he’s still doing the PA announcing for Hillcrest football. When the Patriots get a first down, he yells, “Move the chains!” When an extra point is kicked, we hear. “Put it on the board!” John is one of a kind. I’ve known him since he was a UA freshman in the fall of 1981. He’s from Heflin. He may as well be from Mayberry. John will probably be our governor one day.

NEXT UP: A bye, then back at it on Oct. 23, when Hewitt-Trussville (RB Jarrion Street, an Ole Miss commit that is hearing from Bama) travels to Hoover. Josh Niblett’s Bucs are in bounce-back mode following their first ever loss to Spain Park last Thursday, but they’ll be fine. They destroyed Tuscaloosa County 45-3 Friday. They always have prospects, but are not uber-talented as in past years.

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